story by Lindsay Humphrey Blonde hair and glitter fringe is about all you’ll see of Sydnie Wynn Graves when she’s astride one of her two […]
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Meet the Member Aspen Autry
story by Lily Weinacht
The 2018 season was Aspen Autry’s first in the KKP, and the 11-year-old from Branson, Colorado, made big strides to accomplish her goal of qualifying for the Junior World Finals. Not only did she win the KK Run for Vegas qualifier in Castle Rock, Colorado, but she and her horse Streakaway Scandal “Jag” won the first and second rounds of the Junior World Finals and took home the 2018 Junior World Finals Junior Girl World Barrel Racing Champion title. “What I really wanted to do was stay consistent so I could win the average, and just do what my grandpa says: ‘The consistent ones make the best runs,’” says Aspen, who is the fourth generation of her family to rodeo, as well as a relative of Gene Autry’s. “I got a Louis Vitton bag, some buckles, a hay bag, buckle holders, a breastcollar, and I earned $11,000 that will go toward other barrel races and rodeos. I love the time that I spend with my horse. It’s just really fun doing rodeo, and I really like it and getting to hang out with my friends.”
In between Junior World Finals performances, Aspen and her parents, JJ and Crystal Autry, attended Round 7 of the WNFR and explored the Las Vegas Strip. “I liked watching the calf roping and the barrel racing, and we always cheer for Trey Yates. He and my brother used to enter goat ropings together,” says Aspen. Her focus is now on The American Semi-Finals in February, which she qualified for through the Junior World Finals. She also competed in The American Semi-Finals in 2017, and the 2018 National Little Britches Finals Rodeo, where she finished third in the world in the barrel racing. Along with barrel racing, Aspen competes in pole bending, goat tying, breakaway roping, and running ribbons in the ribbon roping with her 14-year-old brother, Joe Cash, in the CJRA and CJHSRA.
“My parents have helped me out, and my best friend Lexie Winford has been watching me compete this whole time. She’s done Little Britches and some barrel races with me,” says Aspen. “My dad drives, and feeds and waters the horses, and my mom braids my horse’s hair and makes sure I’m all good and stretched out.” Aspen’s main barrel horse, Jag, came to her family five years ago. “My dad rode him for a year and a half, and thought if barrels wouldn’t work for him, he’d be a really nice team roping horse. I got on him and did some barrels, and it just kicked in and he started doing good. For breakaway and goats I use a horse named French Fry—she’s 7—and for ribbon roping, my brother rides Tucson or Roany. I have a cat named Callyann, and I adore her a lot. I also have a pig named Marshmallow who was supposed to be a teacup pig, but she became a big pig.”
A sixth-grader at Kim School District, Aspen enjoys math and P.E. She’s also played basketball since she was 8, and recently finished another season playing for the Kim Mustangs. “Rodeo does help with basketball—it makes you focus with your hands. I also like roller skating, and skiing at Wolf Creek.” Her main goal in her rodeo career is to qualify for the WNFR, while she has her sight set on her first qualification to the NJHFR this summer. Aspen’s brother, Joe Cash, is leading the CJHSRA team roping, and together they’re fifth in the ribbon roping, while Aspen is leading the barrel racing and sitting third in the pole bending. “I really love my horse,” she finishes, “and I thank God for what he can do for me.”